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  • V5 Morality

    So, I've been chewing over the Morality system in V5 recently, and I think I've now established my final take on it all. I've touched on this a little in other threads, but I thought I might put everything together in one place and just lay out my own House Rule on the whole thing.

    The big picture, I like what V5 is trying to do with Morality a LOT, I just don't like exactly how it was implemented in the final design of the game. It is a system of simplistic complexity, which is something I'm generally a fan of in game design, and it views Morality more like the complex system that it is with a mix of social pressures as depicted in the Tenets and personal belief as reflected in the Convictions.

    After assessing this structure, I think it is good in some ways but that it misses some thematic opportunity in other ways. So, here is the way I'm going to be approaching it from now on:

    Humanity Tracker
    The Humanity tracker is actually a gauge of who is more the driver of the vehicle that is the individual Kindred - the Beast (at low levels) or the Man (at high levels, and not being used in terms of sex/gender). Nothing more, nothing less. This is a big change from past Editions, sure, where Humanity was one of many individual systems of Ethics - but V5 has shifted the placement of Ethics to Convictions so that is not what Humanity is anymore. In this type of a system, one could rightfully say a Path follow might well have a high Humanity as the Path provides them a set of Ethics that allows them to keep the Beast at bay and allow what remains of the Man to be the primary driver.

    Tenets
    Here is where I shift a little bit, in my final view of the system, in that I don't think the best use of Tenets is to reflect the social pressures that play on Morality - it just leaves a whole lot of gray area in how this should apply to larger scale Chronicles (do Tenets change from City to City, not really Chronicle Tenets then...) and misses a thematic opportunity in that these should be reflections of the Beast and what drives you closer to it. I almost think these things should just be static (Game Tenets) more than anything, and they should be given a little more solid foothold in the mechanics of the game. Here are what I have opted to use myself now:
    • Letting blood propagate the Beast (Stains: Bonding [+1], Embracing [+2])
    • Ending lives satiate the Beast (Stains: Manslaughter [+1], Murder [+2])
    • Harming innocents amuse the Beast (Stains: Accidental [+1], Intentional [+2])
    • Utter perversions empower the Beast (Stains: Ambiguous [+2], Explicit [+3])
    This covers the normal consistent Staining actions of Bonding and Embracing noted in the rules via the first Tenet (so this is just codifying that), and the others are based around concepts that would be actions the Beast could leverage for control on the grand scale of Humanity. It still leaves wiggle room for interpretation at the table by the group/ST, but also makes things much more clear how the base consensus of how one becomes damned works for Kindred (and note, these are positioned to be harsh so that other parts of the system have weight and importance as you'll see, basically - being a vampire in this system will damn you in no time at all without protections).

    Convictions
    Convictions work basically as they are detailed in the RAW, just codified a little bit more. If a character commits a violation of a Tenet in the name of one of their Convictions it will reduce the number of Stains they take by -1. This means some actions can be more easily reasoned away completely based on personal belief, while some more illicit actions might still require deeper justification even with personal belief backing you up by stacking multiple Convictions to further reduce the Stains incurred (2 associated Convictions will reduce Stains by -2). Belief also does not require Touchstones (we'll get to those, they still work mostly like they do, just a slight difference), and so have the ability to be lost through another means which we'll discuss.

    Characters are allowed to maintain a maximum of 5 Convictions at any given time (and at character creation may still elect to start with between 1-3 in place right out of the gate). Establishing a new Conviction in game, mechanically speaking, will require 5 XP (roughly 5 sessions of play, scale as needed for your XP awarding methods). More broadly the player should engage in at least a small subplot that delves into the reason behind the manifestation of this newly held belief.

    So, how does one lose their Convictions with Touchstones not being required - simple, when they're Challenged. Anytime that a character takes an action that goes against one of their present Convictions this will count as a Challenge to that Conviction. If the character's Convictions are simply Uncodified Ethics (no Touchstone or Path to protect the Conviction) use the following test where failure results in the loss of the Conviction: Resolve.

    This means that having Uncodified Ethics is risky business, and so one might consider investing in Touchstones, a Path of Enlightenment, or even adopting a combination of the two.

    Touchstones
    Touchstones have been modified to become a Background which operates in a similar fashion to both Allies and Contacts. First of all, each Touchstone must be associated to a particular Conviction as it somehow represent the belief held by the character in some way. The rating of each Touchstone, like Contacts or Allies, allows for the individual that the Background represents to be a stronger version of the Mortal in question. This can help to make them less prone to harm, and even potentially make them valuable assets beyond the moral assurances they provide.

    When a character has a Conviction Challenged that has an associated Touchstone it will add +1 to the test made to maintain their beliefs due to their anchor with which they can relate. This protection does not come without a cost, however, as if as Touchstone is Damaged or Destroyed it can have the reverse effect by strengthening the Beast (causes Stains on the Humanity tracker just like it does in the RAW).

    Note that this could be tweaked further to have some more interesting overlaps with the Paths by having different Paths allow for different things to qualify as Touchstones beyond simply Mortals (which could be the defacto "default" option across the board as even the more "embracing my inhuman nature" types could have their belief reinforced by humans exhibiting similar mentalities - it is just more unlikely for them to find them). This could range from adding in other Kindred, to even things and places if we wanted to have that option available. All that would take really is adding a quick line to any of the Paths that details what options are available to them.

    Paths of Enlightenment
    Having strong personal beliefs is paramount to the Kindred in order to stave off the Beast lingering within them, and while any strongly held beliefs can accommodate this the absolute best method is the adoption of a Path of Enlightenment. More than just a sense of justification, as provided by a Touchstone, it grants the Kindred with an actual sense of community on a philosophical level. These are truly codified ways of viewing the unlife, and can grant a Kindred with a profound sense of being that allows them to maintain their beliefs more readily than Kindred who just have strongly held Convictions.

    A Path of Enlightenment will have a rating of 0 to 5, and a Kindred may only have a single Path at any given time. Each Path will also have a set of potential Ethics (these will need to be specifically developed with this system in mind, but the basic rundowns given of the Path Ethics in the V20 Corebook work as an alright starting point for this process - I'll likely explore doing some of these myself a little later). Adopting a Path is no simple feat, however, and will require dedication on the part of the Kindred as does any true belief system.

    Paths may only be acquired with Experience Points, meaning they are not available to Childer character types at character creation. They also require a viable source to learn from, be it a teacher or documentation, as these are existing and codified belief systems (one could make their own, of course, which is something I'll also likely further explore once I take care of some of the more prominent Path Ethics). Mechanically, each point in the Path Rating costs New Level x 5. Adopting the Ethics of the Paths as personal Convictions is done independently, but characters with a Path Rating may purchase the Ethics of their Path for 3 XP as opposed to the usual 5 XP for Uncodified Ethics.

    The benefit of all of this is that when a character finds their Convictions Challenged, if those Convictions are backed by a Path of Enlightenment they may roll Resolve + Path Rating (+1 for any Touchstone) to help them maintain their beliefs when tested. Should the character happen to fail the test and lose their Conviction, they will face a Crisis of Faith. In this case the character immediately makes a Willpower Check where on a failure they must reduce their Path Rating by 1. Should the Crisis of Faith cause the character to lose the last point they have in their Path Rating the character has a spiritual breaking point and gains +3 Stains to their Humanity Tracker that cannot be protected by an Convictions (should the character still maintain any Uncodified Ethics).

    *****

    That basically covers it for anyone that happens to be interested and decides they want to take a stab at using this in their own campaigns. I haven't gotten to run this through the ringer yet, but I will be with my home group moving forward. Would love to hear what others think, and if they try it out any feedback is always welcome.
    Last edited by Red Eye; 03-05-2019, 05:50 AM.


    -Red
    V20 Content: Age & Potency
    V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor, Morality System
    Brand Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

  • #2
    I'll have to read it more than once and ponder on it a bit, but, by and large, I like where you're going with this!


    If nothing worked, then let's think!

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    • #3
      Thanks, look forward to hearing what you think.

      To be honest, it doesn't even shift things all that much from where they are now, just a couple nudges. They were so close to being right on the mark for me with the system, I really do like it a lot, but it just needed a little something.

      My hope is that this allows things like more inhuman Paths to hover around 2-4 Humanity Tracker, the more moderate ones to be able to ride along a much wider margin, and the much more "goody goody" paths to allow maintaining a higher rating easily. To me that all checks out, and feels thematically appropriate to the setting at large. If it will all pan out in practice, we shall see
      Last edited by Red Eye; 02-25-2019, 06:09 PM.


      -Red
      V20 Content: Age & Potency
      V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor, Morality System
      Brand Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

      Comment


      • #4
        Red Eye

        Well done. I especially appreciate the thought given to Touchstones as a background.

        Thank you, for posting this.

        Have you considered running Paths as single Convictions which would read: "Follow the teachings, ethics, and rituals of the Path of X"? My concern with choosing a Conviction from among the Ethics in previous books is that it could allow for cherry-picking, and an incomplete Path. Removing an ethic from the original context could lead to the "Conviction of What I Was Going To Do Anyway".

        For example, on the Path of Caine there is an Ethic that says, "Do not take the curse for granted. Exult in its power and beware its weaknesses". Now, as one piece of a larger Path, with lots of other limitations and requirements (eg "Failing to pursue knowledge about Caine and Vampirism" is a level 2 sin, equivalent to "Casual Violation, Thoughtless Killing" on Humanity), this is fine. Without the rest of the Path, that Ethic comes across as a nearly universal get-out-of-jail-free card.

        "Why did you torture those babies?" "I was exulting. Take off a stain."
        "Why did you embrace seven firefighters?" "Fire is a weakness. Take off a stain."
        "Hey, look, there's Caine! He's playing Truth or Dare in his cab!" "Meh, whatever. I have a very busy exulting schedule."

        Comment


        • #5
          Ahh, yep, that was my bad partially, I quoted the wrong source for the inspiration of the Ethics. What I had been originally looking over when making this shift was actually the V20 Corebook as opposed to Chaining the Beast. The former provides a much more confined listing of Ethics for the Paths (5 for each I believe) as they try to encapsulate the overall flavor in less space than is dedicated in Chaining the Beast.

          As for your examples, this is a problem that could be encountered with the Convictions system in general, and is where the premise of ST intervention is important. You don't have to allow for things in your games that would disrupt your games, despite them in theory being possible. It falls under the same context of me deciding to run a Camarilla street level game in any other Edition and someone coming to the table with an Elder Tzimisce Cardinal of the Sabbat - sure it is a valid type of character, but not for my game, so sorry if I'm not gonna let you bring it in.

          The same tact would need to be applied with Paths, and honestly any Convictions, in V5 to not have the exact result you are talking about. Not a problem I have to worry about at my own table, so wasn't looking to insulate the system against that.

          All that said, one should take the time to codify the Paths in V5 terms since this post doesn't go into that (other than to say simply nab stuff available in past books, because it is my cop out being as I'm not being paid to develop V5). They should probably have very careful chosen Ethic sets to best convey the feeling of the Path and likely actually explore the idea I had in relation to Touchstones more fully (alternative options based on Path).


          -Red
          V20 Content: Age & Potency
          V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor, Morality System
          Brand Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

          Comment


          • #6
            Awesome changes.

            I like how you've finagled a way for Paths and Humanity to exist concurrently. I was never a big fan of how characters could have ratings of 10 in some of the more "out there" Paths and poof, have free license to commit murder. You've made it so that Paths are useful towards that end while remaining subordinate to Humanity.

            Contrariwise, you've also made it so that more "humane" Paths like the Path of Entelechy and some of the (Dark Ages) Paths to the old Road of Humanity aren't completely separate moral codes, but ethics characters can adopt to better withstand the Beast.

            The Humanity tracker is actually a gauge of who is more the driver of the vehicle that is the individual Kindred - the Beast (at low levels) or the Man (at high levels, and not being used in terms of sex/gender). Nothing more, nothing less.
            Interesting. Most editions of Masquerade basically had Humanity as a good/evil meter. Requiem 2e tried to move things in a different direction by having Humanity measure how good a vampire was at countenancing humanity, but in practice things worked out much the same.

            The Revised/V20 rulebook's description of Humanity 1 vampires always intrigued me, as they made it sound like those Kindred barely had any control remaining over their own actions. In practice that wasn't how Humanity ever really panned out, it just meant you couldn't fail any more rolls before succumbing to wassail. I like the thought of having a grayer area there and low Humanity actually making the Beast stronger, vice simply giving characters license to get away with all but the worst sins. There should be a reason even callous and jaded elders fear losing themselves to the Beast.

            That might be beyond what your system sets out to do, but it feels like it plays into that idea.

            Here is where I shift a little bit, in my final view of the system, in that I don't think the best use of Tenets is to reflect the social pressures that play on Morality - it just leaves a whole lot of gray area in how this should apply to larger scale Chronicles (do Tenets change from City to City, not really Chronicle Tenets then...) and misses a thematic opportunity in that these should be reflections of the Beast and what drives you closer to it. I almost think these things should just be static (Game Tenets) more than anything, and they should be given a little more solid foothold in the mechanics of the game. Here are what I have opted to use myself now:

            Letting blood spreads the Beast (Stains: Bonding [+1], Embracing [+2])
            Ending life feeds the Beast (Stains: Spontaneous [+1], Premeditated [+2])
            Harming innocents amuses the Beast (Stains: Ambiguous [+1], Explicit [+2])
            I agree that if you want to tie to Humanity to the Beast's actions, you might as well turn Chronicle Tenants into Game Tenents. I don't see many chronicles where killing people doesn't strengthen the Beast.

            Does harming non-innocents feed the Beast? That'd seem strange if torturing someone in your basement for weeks doesn't feed the Beast, but a quick bullet to the head still does. I can think of other broad tenants I'd bring up ("remaining apart from humankind strengthens the Beast"), but I think this is where the old hierarchy of sins was pretty good at its job. I did like how more recent CofD games condensed "sin ratings" down to just five, though. Ten always felt too big to me.

            So, how does one lose their Convictions with Touchstones not being required - simple, when their Challenged. Anytime that a character takes an action that goes against one of their present Convictions this will count as a Challenge to that Conviction.
            I might ask players to come up with an "Inverse Conviction" to further conceptualize this. If your Conviction is "family comes before all" then "putting something above family" constitutes a Challenge.

            Touchstones have been modified to become a Background which operates in a similar fashion to both Allies and Contacts. First of all, each Touchstone must be associated to a particular Conviction as it somehow represent the belief held by the character in some way.
            This is a good piece of advice even for games that don't use your Morality system.

            The rating of each Touchstone, like Contacts or Allies, allows for the individual that the Background represents to be a stronger version of the Mortal in question. This can help to make them less prone to harm, and even potentially make them valuable assets beyond the moral assurances they provide.
            One variation on this would be to keep Touchstones as they are, but to clarify that having someone as your Touchstone only establishes your relationship to them. You can pick a major city's mayor as your Touchstone, if you want, but the relationship will be strictly one-way. They won't be inclined to leverage influence or help you out (more than any other schmuck off the street) without an investment in the Allies Background. Your "relationship" is likely to take the form of "chance encounters" at work and small talk that means the world to you but means little to them, or even stalking behaviors like following them home. That's not conductive towards a particularly healthy relationship, but seems in-keeping with how a lot of vampires are depicted as relating to mortals.

            Note that this could be tweaked further to have some more interesting overlaps with the Paths by having different Paths to allow for different things to qualify as Touchstones beyond simply Mortals (which could be the defacto "default" option across the board as even the more "embracing my inhuman nature" types could have their belief reinforced by humans exhibiting similar mentalities (it is just more unlikely for them to find them). This could range from adding in other Kindred, to even things and places if we wanted to have that option available. All that would take really is adding a quick line to any of the Paths that details what options are available to them.
            I've allowed vampire Touchstones in my games with a big caveat. Any sins you witness them commit, you roll as if you'd committed too. It's like a recovering addict looking towards another recovering addict for inspiration. When you see them relapse, it's that much harder to stay clean. In practice, this makes vampire Touchstones popular with elders who are too world-weary to form lasting human connections ("they die so quickly..."), ala Marius and Lestat.

            That option becomes a lot more attractive with Paths of Enlightenment, however. As you've noted, mortals who "follow" Paths only really do so incidentally. The "they sin, you've sinned" drawback could even apply in reverse to mortals rather than vampires. If you're a follower on the Path of Night, you are probably better served having Ambrosio Luis Moncada as your Touchstone (yeah, he doesn't actually follow it...) than a mortal psychopath with religious delusions.

            A Path of Enlightenment will have a rating of 0 to 5, and a Kindred may only have a single Path at any given time. Each Path will also have a set of potential Ethics (honestly, just directly use the list of Ethics noted in Chaining the Beast for each of the existing Paths and you have a solid listing of 6 available for characters to pick from, 3 more than they can actively maintain at any given time, and also means that even Paths can be customized to a small degree).
            I think allowing even large customization of Paths is a good thing, as that allows for ambiguity and questions as to "who's REALLY" following the Path. Groups of religiously and philosophically like-minded people get split over questions of doctrinal orthodoxy all the time. Masquerade didn't really allow for that, since adopting a Path meant adopting all of its ethics wholesale. You could be an objectively crappy follower of what the Path (ie, have a low rating), but you were held to the same hierarchy of sins as the guy with a rating of 10. There was no built-in way to actually redefine the Path's ethics or pioneer splinter movements. Granted, that's not something most PCs are likely to be interested in doing, but it's neat for the idea to have some mechanical teeth to it.

            Avoiding Path (or Ethic) of What I Was Going to do Anyway Syndrome is a valid concern, but I think simple GM oversight can address it. A PC can have an Ethic to exult in vampirism's powers, if they'd like, but only if they back it up with other Ethics (like being a Caine groupie) that play into a coherent philosophy which imposes meaningful constraints upon behavior.


            Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              Awesome changes.

              I like how you've finagled a way for Paths and Humanity to exist concurrently...snip...
              Thanks! It seems like a fairly good way to bridge the gap at least, to me anyways.


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              Interesting. Most editions of Masquerade basically had Humanity as a good/evil meter. Requiem 2e tried to move things in a different direction by having Humanity measure how good a vampire was at countenancing humanity, but in practice things worked out much the same.

              The Revised/V20 rulebook's description of Humanity 1 vampires always intrigued me, as they made it sound like those Kindred barely had any control remaining over their own actions. In practice that wasn't how Humanity ever really panned out, it just meant you couldn't fail any more rolls before succumbing to wassail. I like the thought of having a grayer area there and low Humanity actually making the Beast stronger, vice simply giving characters license to get away with all but the worst sins. There should be a reason even callous and jaded elders fear losing themselves to the Beast.

              That might be beyond what your system sets out to do, but it feels like it plays into that idea.
              Indeed, I always kind of had a distaste for the "good/bad" meter of the old Humanity system, so I was refreshed to see changes made to the Morality side of things in V5 (and as you note later just how linear belief systems were portrayed as being).

              To your other point here, yes, it is a bit beyond what I was trying to accomplish with the system changes though it is a fascinating premise that could be interesting to explore.


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              I agree that if you want to tie to Humanity to the Beast's actions, you might as well turn Chronicle Tenants into Game Tenents. I don't see many chronicles where killing people doesn't strengthen the Beast.

              Does harming non-innocents feed the Beast? That'd seem strange if torturing someone in your basement for weeks doesn't feed the Beast, but a quick bullet to the head still does. I can think of other broad tenants I'd bring up ("remaining apart from humankind strengthens the Beast"), but I think this is where the old hierarchy of sins was pretty good at its job. I did like how more recent CofD games condensed "sin ratings" down to just five, though. Ten always felt too big to me.
              Well, I would say this is probably going to come down to a table decision. In my opinion, the frame of innocence for the harm related one has a lot of gray area to work with. At the very least I would say that torture is always going to register on that tracker (even against deplorable individuals, as it could be argued at the very least that no one deserves torture) - so I'd at least have to tag it under the Ambiguous classification there honestly. That would make it a +1 Stain, which means someone acting on behalf of their Convictions might be able to rationalize their actions to themselves as being justified and still keep the Beast at bay. That is actually part and parcel why I left it tagged that way, honestly, because I would even argue that in many cases the very act of feed will most of the time be at least Ambiguous on this scale (not always, but in a lot of cases it could be argued).


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              I might ask players to come up with an "Inverse Conviction" to further conceptualize this. If your Conviction is "family comes before all" then "putting something above family" constitutes a Challenge.
              This is an absolutely viable approach to the system, but it reigns things in a bit more than I would like to honestly. I think one of the great things about the new system is some of the ambiguity behind it all, leaving things open to interpretation at the table among individual groups. If you're more in favor of a more codified approach this is totally a reasonable way to go though.


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              This is a good piece of advice even for games that don't use your Morality system.
              Well, thanks, it does seem to be a major sticking point for a lot of folks with the newer Morality system, and this is a facet that can honestly be easily applied directly to the existing system without any additional tweaks without any real serious issue.


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              One variation on this would be to keep Touchstones as they are, but to clarify that having someone as your Touchstone only establishes your relationship to them. You can pick a major city's mayor as your Touchstone, if you want, but the relationship will be strictly one-way. They won't be inclined to leverage influence or help you out (more than any other schmuck off the street) without an investment in the Allies Background. Your "relationship" is likely to take the form of "chance encounters" at work and small talk that means the world to you but means little to them, or even stalking behaviors like following them home. That's not conductive towards a particularly healthy relationship, but seems in-keeping with how a lot of vampires are depicted as relating to mortals.
              Ahh, this may have just been bad communication on my part. The Touchstone having relation to Allies or Contacts is only in so-far as it applies to increasing the general strength of the mortal that the trait reflects as it does on those Backgrounds - Weak, Average, Gifted, Deadly as noted on page 185 of the book - and this was simply to allow players the ability to decide just how "squishy" the mortal that acts as their Touchstone really is so when they do get into trouble (as will no doubt be the case) they might have a greater chance of survival on their own in this World of Darkness.

              So, to sum up, it wasn't supposed to convey any potential use for the Mortal the stat represents beyond the fact they are a Touchstone. If you want an Allie take that Background, and if you want a Contact take that Background. Their different things.


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              I've allowed vampire Touchstones in my games with a big caveat. Any sins you witness them commit, you roll as if you'd committed too. It's like a recovering addict looking towards another recovering addict for inspiration. When you see them relapse, it's that much harder to stay clean. In practice, this makes vampire Touchstones popular with elders who are too world-weary to form lasting human connections ("they die so quickly..."), ala Marius and Lestat.
              If/when I get around to provide some specifics on the Paths themselves this might be a good approach for Paths that allow for Kindred Touchstones (or potentially just allowing that to be a blanket thing across the board - as your analogy seems too good to not just let it be a default options on the table). To be completely honest, I actually have no problems with Touchstones being just about anything (namely because I can think of ways to deem most anything as either Damaged or Destroyed in the context of maintaining value as a source of belief). In my own home game I already allow for anything to be a Touchstone if the player can explain how the Touchstone properly reflects the value they attach it to.

              For instance, I had a player with a Gangrel in a recent game who had a Conviction of "Freedom is fundamental" who had their motorcycle as the representative Touchstone for that belief, as they said that it represented an ability to simply go - to be one with the road. I liked it, and didn't see any valid reason why an object shouldn't be able to keep a person connected to the Humanity.


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              That option becomes a lot more attractive with Paths of Enlightenment, however. As you've noted, mortals who "follow" Paths only really do so incidentally. The "they sin, you've sinned" drawback could even apply in reverse to mortals rather than vampires. If you're a follower on the Path of Night, you are probably better served having Ambrosio Luis Moncada as your Touchstone (yeah, he doesn't actually follow it...) than a mortal psychopath with religious delusions.
              That is actually an interesting spin on the whole concept. And honestly, I seem to recall seeing somewhere in the books that in theory it would be possible for a Mortal to actually adopt a Path, it would just be extremely unlikely that one ever would. Doing something like this would go a long way to making that concept a reality.


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              I think allowing even large customization of Paths is a good thing, as that allows for ambiguity and questions as to "who's REALLY" following the Path. Groups of religiously and philosophically like-minded people get split over questions of doctrinal orthodoxy all the time. Masquerade didn't really allow for that, since adopting a Path meant adopting all of its ethics wholesale. You could be an objectively crappy follower of what the Path (ie, have a low rating), but you were held to the same hierarchy of sins as the guy with a rating of 10. There was no built-in way to actually redefine the Path's ethics or pioneer splinter movements. Granted, that's not something most PCs are likely to be interested in doing, but it's neat for the idea to have some mechanical teeth to it.
              As I noted above, this was one of the fundamental reason why I enjoy the new system so much. It allows for these kinds of variations to exist, and I think that is a better reflection of Morality as a whole than the old system (even if the old system carried us for decades).


              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              Avoiding Path (or Ethic) of What I Was Going to do Anyway Syndrome is a valid concern, but I think simple GM oversight can address it. A PC can have an Ethic to exult in vampirism's powers, if they'd like, but only if they back it up with other Ethics (like being a Caine groupie) that play into a coherent philosophy which imposes meaningful constraints upon behavior.
              100% with you on this. As I generally noted earlier in the thread, this is a potential problem in general with V5 Morality and Convictions as they stand (if you want to look at it as a problem). So, just like you would need to under this system, you don't have to do anything more special with my modified version.


              -Red
              V20 Content: Age & Potency
              V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor, Morality System
              Brand Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

              Comment


              • #8
                Very interesting read, generally i like the new morality system for the same reasons you suggested and i'm looking forward to seeing what happens with paths when it becomes 'official'. I think with paths, it would be good to have a set of rigid set of convictions/tenets that they adhere too - whilst Humanity offers a certain flexibility, a path shouldn't and needs to limit abuse to it's power as much as possible. i'd want to see 'official convictions' where a PC can't cherry pick which ones they want - a path has to mix good with bad and have that structure. Perhaps a good way to do it is to have the path with a one to five 'background' type rating - each level represents a new conviction that you can use against degeneration, and would almost act as a reverse hierarchy of sins.

                As for making touchstones a background... i like the idea you can invest in them to make them stronger, however i'd rather not limit them to a purchase as i can see people ignoring them in favour of flashier things- perhaps you still get a free touchstone for every conviction you take at character creation, but others throughout the chronicle need to 'unlocked' somehow. I should point out here that i'm not a fan of spending experience to gain backgrounds - all background gains and loss in my chronicle come from roleplaying only.

                Whilst we're on the subject of V5 morality, i had a situation come up last night that i'm interested in some perspective on So, one of the PCs in my group finally completed Blood Bonding a mortal - this should normally accrue one stain. However they have a personal Conviction of 'Always help a woman in need'. The situation with the ghoul is that they are an aspiring fashion designer, however they have serious addiction issues, and are taking a fairly large cocktail of various drugs and on a pretty obvious spiral downwards - in turn throwing away their potential. The character is a Toreador and wants their own personal designer to help them stand out in Elysium. as well as embarrass a rival by upstaging them.
                The act of ghouling here is selfish (they want a tool), however they only went so far with the blood bond to 'cure' them of their other addiction - a steady supply of blood will really help. This fulfills helping a woman in need.
                my other thought however is that it states Convictions help mitigate a broken Chronicle Tenet - making a ghoul isn't a chronicle tenet...
                So, i'm in two minds how to run this - i agree she has helped her - saved her life really. However, it isn't a chronicle Tenet.
                Thoughts?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by chipotlechris View Post
                  Very interesting read, generally i like the new morality system for the same reasons you suggested and i'm looking forward to seeing what happens with paths when it becomes 'official'. I think with paths, it would be good to have a set of rigid set of convictions/tenets that they adhere too - whilst Humanity offers a certain flexibility, a path shouldn't and needs to limit abuse to it's power as much as possible. i'd want to see 'official convictions' where a PC can't cherry pick which ones they want - a path has to mix good with bad and have that structure. Perhaps a good way to do it is to have the path with a one to five 'background' type rating - each level represents a new conviction that you can use against degeneration, and would almost act as a reverse hierarchy of sins.
                  Thanks for checking it out. In regards to the Path Ethics, while I agree it should be much more rigid (thus each Path has a limited number of Ethics that actually apply), I'm still a big fan in the idea of variation in how that all pans out. I really didn't like that the old system forced you to adopt specific philosophical outlooks at very specific intervals. Perhaps I want to play a character, however, who really adopts a higher level Ethic early on, well before they buy into other beliefs of the system.

                  If you wanted to take your approach and mix it with my own presentation then what I would do is assign a series of 5 Ethics to each Path, then when a player purchases a new level in the Path they can personally choose which of the Ethics it is that they are adopting. So, you essentially have a menu of Ethics, and it is up to you as a player which order you pull them in with. This would at least still simulate the potential for variation in how belief forms within individuals.


                  Originally posted by chipotlechris View Post
                  As for making touchstones a background... i like the idea you can invest in them to make them stronger, however i'd rather not limit them to a purchase as i can see people ignoring them in favour of flashier things- perhaps you still get a free touchstone for every conviction you take at character creation, but others throughout the chronicle need to 'unlocked' somehow. I should point out here that i'm not a fan of spending experience to gain backgrounds - all background gains and loss in my chronicle come from roleplaying only.
                  Generally speaking, throughout the years, this has been my own personal approach to Backgrounds as well - they are free to gain and lose in play. I've attempted to adopt a slightly different outlook with V5 by incorporating the concept of downtime into all of this. So, I still freely hand out Backgrounds, but as the text of V5 suggests when I do this they are temporary Backgrounds. If they want them to be permanent then they invest the Experience. What this indicates to me is that the character is investing some of their downtime into maintaining this new Background (meaning I don't always have to sacrifice storyline time to explore these side stories if I don't feel like it brings a lot more to the table to do so).

                  This approach has been working pretty well for me since diving into V5, but your mileage my vary.


                  Originally posted by chipotlechris View Post
                  Whilst we're on the subject of V5 morality, i had a situation come up last night that i'm interested in some perspective on So, one of the PCs in my group finally completed Blood Bonding a mortal - this should normally accrue one stain. However they have a personal Conviction of 'Always help a woman in need'. The situation with the ghoul is that they are an aspiring fashion designer, however they have serious addiction issues, and are taking a fairly large cocktail of various drugs and on a pretty obvious spiral downwards - in turn throwing away their potential. The character is a Toreador and wants their own personal designer to help them stand out in Elysium. as well as embarrass a rival by upstaging them.
                  The act of ghouling here is selfish (they want a tool), however they only went so far with the blood bond to 'cure' them of their other addiction - a steady supply of blood will really help. This fulfills helping a woman in need.
                  my other thought however is that it states Convictions help mitigate a broken Chronicle Tenet - making a ghoul isn't a chronicle tenet...
                  So, i'm in two minds how to run this - i agree she has helped her - saved her life really. However, it isn't a chronicle Tenet.
                  Thoughts?
                  Well, this is a fun one. So, as you point out, the way the text is written one could make an argument that things like Bonding, Embracing, Damaging Touchstones, and Destroying Touchstones could all be viewed as "automatic Stain" sources as they are not Tenets (which is, per the text, what Convictions protect characters from) but at the same time they still cause Stains. Personally, I don't like the idea of there being certain actions that a person might not be able to find some way to try and justify to themselves (at least in part). This is why my new system simply allows a Conviction that is being acted in favor of will reduce the Stains one would take by -1. This means more minor stuff that only causes a single Stain could reasonably be completely rationalized away by the character (the ends justify the means to them, in this case), but more egregious actions might be able to be justified to some degree but will still leave a mark on the character (thus Actions that cause 2 or more Stains will always still cause some, even if done in the favor of a personal belief - their is still some underlying guilt there).

                  So, in this particular instance, I think the Conviction at least has some grounds in the situation, and that the player could absolutely make a reasonable argument that they were simply acting on behalf of their personal beliefs. As such, I'd be willing to reduce the incoming Stains by -1 and since Bonding is just a +1 Stain violation that means the character would be capable of fully justifying the situation to themselves. They could have done the same with Embracing them, but since that is a +2 Stain violation I would argue it makes sense that they still take a single Stain because while they would have helped the woman with the immediate problem by Embracing her, they would have still damned her to the eternal battle with the Beast that they can't fully justify their way around.

                  That is my two cents anyways.


                  -Red
                  V20 Content: Age & Potency
                  V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor, Morality System
                  Brand Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    chipotlechris

                    Can we get more information? What are the Chronicle Tenets, and the pc's other Convictions? What is the reasoning behind the "helping women" belief? If it is about the liberation of women to achieve their very best selves, it's one thing. If it's the retrograde idea that women are silly little creatures who can't run their own lives and need a man to guide them, it's quite another.

                    Are there any house rules related to Humanity or ghouling that might apply?

                    How much information did the pc have... that is, did they know blood-bonding a mortal would have the impact it did, or was it a side-effect? I don't recall V5 saying that becoming blood-bound cures other addictions. Is that a houserule? Or, are you relying on the domitor forbidding the use of drugs acting as a deterrent? If so, wow, this pc needs an Al-Anon meeting bad.

                    Did the pc take any measures to protect the fashion designer from suffering from withdrawal symptoms? Remember, some drugs can cause death if they are quit cold turkey.

                    Will blood-bonding her actually help her in the long-run, or is it just switching out one addiction for another?

                    What was the pc's actual motivation for all this? Remember, ghouls don't age, but their lifespans are often shorter than they would otherwise be given the tumult and danger of a VtM chronicle. If ghouling her led to an amazing wardrobe, but shortened the designer's life-span, what choice would the pc have made?

                    Finally, what other ways did the pc have of achieving this goal? For example, the pc could have chosen to stage an intervention, help the designer get proper addiction treatment, and sponsor her design business by hiring her as a personal stylist once she was back on her feet. Instead, the pc decided looking good quickly was more important than actually helping this woman in the long run. Could the ghouling have been a violation of the Conviction?

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                    • #11
                      ^^^ All good points that can shift the context of the situation, each layer of the above potentially shifting my initial response around. ^^^


                      -Red
                      V20 Content: Age & Potency
                      V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor, Morality System
                      Brand Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I like most of these changes. However I do have a critique or two where Paths are concerned:

                        You've explased long and trough about Challenging Convictions...but what about Stains?- If you can only get a -1 Stain when your Convictions (backed by Paths or not) are implied then you will always gain a Stain if you make a +2 violation (like killing with premeditation and explicitly hurting).

                        Let's keep that in mind.

                        Originally posted by Red Eye
                        This is a big change from past Editions, sure, where Humanity was one of many individual systems of Ethics - but V5 has shifted the placement of Ethics to Convictions so that is not what Humanity is anymore. In this type of a system, one could rightfully say a Path follow might well have a high Humanity as the Path provides them a set of Ethics that allows them to keep the Beast at bay and allow what remains of the Man to be the primary driver.
                        And

                        Originally posted by Red Eye
                        My hope is that this allows things like more inhuman Paths to hover around 2-4 Humanity Tracker, the more moderate ones to be able to ride along a much wider margin, and the much more "goody goody" paths to allow maintaining a higher rating easily.
                        Humanity it's VERY MUCH still Humanity (that is, it's still about Ethics) if you're further from the Beast the more "goody goody" you are. There's a morality that CLEARLY protects against the beast (not killing, not hurting - at least not explicitly and premeditatedly) and others that are constantly figthing against the current - sure, they can excuse more, but still if "doing bad stuff on purpose" gets you a Stain then being evil it's never going to pay off (in regards of keeping the Beast chained).

                        Following the morality of many Paths does recomend causing explicit harm or premeditated murder sometimes. Gaining a Stain doing what your Path says sounds cheap - a player feels each Stain gained on duty (he has to mark them) and even if these vanish w/o effect due to a low Humanity rating the fact remains that "you lost an hp" for acting your Path.

                        Even at Low Humanity there's not a point where gaining a single Stain isn't potentially dangerous. A single Stain gained following your Path may be the one that breaks the camel and makes you lose Humanity if you've been naugthy recently, lost a Touchstone or two, or just weren't able to clear older stains. This reduces the interest of playing lovecraftian blue/orange moralities to chain the beast because you see, mechanically, that they're bad at doing that.

                        Hence I think that there should be a way to avoid the Tenents completely - allowing more than 1 "moral soak" under very specific conditions (to avoid the "path of do whatever you want" syndrome) would work. Perhaps you could sepparate Path Ethics and Convictions, and reduce 2 Stains when both feel represented (obviously aligning Convictions with Path would pay off, but it shouldn't be made easier if it grants such an important benefit)

                        Also, as probably you've seen, High Humanity ratings have some advantages that aren't thematically appropiate to certain Paths (like looking alive for a Path of Bones follower). Perhaps that's why you want inhuman Paths to hover on Low Humanity? - I mantain my point, gaining Stains it's inconvinient and, more importantly, it's anticlimatic if it happens when you interpret your Path. But I reccon that High Humanity advantages aren't appropiate for some Paths. Hence I propose to have Paths changing some advantages. Note that that's not ALWAYS true: Why should Bahari - who are VERY fond of making innocents suffer (in very unambiguous ways) - be unable to enjoy sex?.

                        The best way of doing this, I think, it's treating Paths as Loresheets, where different levels have different powers. They can still add it's rating to Challenging Convictions, but they could allow also stuff like killing w/o Stain (on certain conditions, and not only when it was an accident or somehow ambiguous) at certain levels, and replacing advantages/penalties of Humanity for things that are appropiate to inhuman beings (that way being monstrous rather than just giving penaties, like it does with having them as Low Humanity character, can also give advantages) at different levels.
                        Last edited by Aleph; 02-26-2019, 12:25 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Red Eye View Post

                          If you wanted to take your approach and mix it with my own presentation then what I would do is assign a series of 5 Ethics to each Path, then when a player purchases a new level in the Path they can personally choose which of the Ethics it is that they are adopting. So, you essentially have a menu of Ethics, and it is up to you as a player which order you pull them in with. This would at least still simulate the potential for variation in how belief forms within individuals.
                          Yeah, i think that's a good, happy medium to your approach. it allows flexibility and customisation, without forcing people into a specific idea of whether one thing is worse than another. The only downside is that some Ethics are ones that 'get in the way' - this system could easily allow players to not pick the uncomfortable ones? Perhaps pair ethics together so each level you get two, this provides some balance. If this is the case, i reckon you'd only want 3 levels - perhaps levels 4-5 could offer something less related to convictions in a similar way to loresheets? This is also complicating the situation a tad, but it's fun to discuss!


                          Originally posted by Red Eye View Post

                          Generally speaking, throughout the years, this has been my own personal approach to Backgrounds as well - they are free to gain and lose in play. I've attempted to adopt a slightly different outlook with V5 by incorporating the concept of downtime into all of this. So, I still freely hand out Backgrounds, but as the text of V5 suggests when I do this they are temporary Backgrounds. If they want them to be permanent then they invest the Experience. What this indicates to me is that the character is investing some of their downtime into maintaining this new Background (meaning I don't always have to sacrifice storyline time to explore these side stories if I don't feel like it brings a lot more to the table to do so).

                          This approach has been working pretty well for me since diving into V5, but your mileage my vary.
                          yeah, i can see that making sense. My games haven't really had much in the way of downtime - i tend to run them like a farcical soap opera where things layer on top of each other.


                          Thanks for your thoughts on my predicament, it is a conundrum, but a fun one.The moral implications of the game are some of the best bits and it's fun to put the characters through the ringer a bit on this.

                          Our Chronicle Tenets are:
                          ■ Never kill the innocent
                          ■ Don't be a monster
                          ■ Treasure your past

                          The PC has another conviction 'Thou Shalt not torture' as she is a victim of abuse herself - this is why she has the tenet to aid Women in need - she's been there herself. She does believe that she is doing the right thing here - if the designer wasn't a junkie it's very likely she wouldn't have blood bonded her. What is also true though is that she took a shortcut by swapping one addiction for another rather than staging an intervention (in fairness, she didn't know the lady at all - she made a deal with the ministry and said she wanted to look the best in Elysium - the ministry came through for her by giving them the details of a gifted but addicted designer - no good deed goes unpunished ) My PC is on the clock here as we've an upcoming Death Day party for the Prince and she wants to dress to impress - we've a real Harpy in the making on our hands!

                          As far as addictions go... as far as i'm concerned, the healing powers of vitae, combined with the addictive qualities of the blood are sufficient for the moment to allow cold Turkey. Long term... well i can't see this ending well, but it has been entered into (by the PC at least) with the thing the road to Hell is paved with

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Aleph View Post
                            ...snip...The best way of doing this, I think, it's treating Paths as Loresheets, where different levels have different powers. They can still add it's rating to Challenging Convictions, but they could allow also stuff like killing w/o Stain (on certain conditions, and not only when it was an accident or somehow ambiguous) at certain levels, and replacing advantages/penalties of Humanity for things that are appropiate to inhuman beings (that way being monstrous rather than just giving penaties, like it does with having them as Low Humanity character, can also give advantages) at different levels.
                            Clipped most of the reply as I felt it was the journey that came to this crux in the end (for the most part, you do have a few other points and questions in there, but I wanted to at least quick address part of this), and I think I'm inclined to agree with you on this (though it will need some playtesting either way to ensure it works out). It is an idea I've flirted with for a bit already anyways, and I still think it has merit since it would be nice if Paths could just slot into an existing framework (and there is precedent for it in the fact that Bahari is a Loresheet).

                            Another thing that I have considered is the idea of allowing for the stacking of Convictions to mitigate Stains. So, a character who could make the argument that they are actually upholding two of their Convictions by killing with Premeditation would be able to reduce the incoming Stains by -2 and thus fully rationalize their actions (this plays into have stronger beliefs makes it easier and easier to rationalize various actions). This might be another altogether acceptable way to allow Paths to get by on some of the otherwise unavoidable Stains. Then the Loresheets could convey other kinds of Abilities still thematic for the Path, much in the way the Bahari one operates now.


                            Originally posted by chipotlechris View Post
                            Yeah, i think that's a good, happy medium to your approach. it allows flexibility and customisation, without forcing people into a specific idea of whether one thing is worse than another. The only downside is that some Ethics are ones that 'get in the way' - this system could easily allow players to not pick the uncomfortable ones? Perhaps pair ethics together so each level you get two, this provides some balance. If this is the case, i reckon you'd only want 3 levels - perhaps levels 4-5 could offer something less related to convictions in a similar way to loresheets? This is also complicating the situation a tad, but it's fun to discuss!
                            Alright, so for this it is the big facet of why the easy route of snagging up the Ethics as listed in the past books wouldn't work wholesale (it is a bandaid to get the system in place quickly for any who might want to). One would need to actually redevelop the Paths with this new system in mind to help with all of these perceived problems. Writing the Ethics in a way so that more of the Paths views can be captured within a small number of Ethics, and so that some of the less desirable aspects become baked into the more desirable ones where you can work logical overlaps.


                            Originally posted by chipotlechris View Post
                            yeah, i can see that making sense. My games haven't really had much in the way of downtime - i tend to run them like a farcical soap opera where things layer on top of each other.
                            That is where we likely vary a bit in our approaches then. Generally speaking I will have at least a bit of downtime between Stories in my Chronicles (sometimes a couple nights, other times weeks, maybe months or years even). This helps me hammer home the idea that the characters are immortal beings, and that much like humans the majority of their lives are spent doing the mundane things they need to do to exist. The things that aren't engaging enough to sit around the table and play out all the time, letting them pop up just here and there in active play to keep the setting flavor without bogging down the narrative. By giving these little gaps it is easy for myself and my players to bridge the gap that in these periods they are doing all the stuff that they don't want to spend all that play time focused on.

                            Of course, in my group time is a premium and it is incredibly hard to get everyone together. As such, we might only get to play once a month if we're lucky so we really don't care to take up time on stuff not crucial to the story.


                            Originally posted by chipotlechris View Post
                            Thanks for your thoughts on my predicament, it is a conundrum, but a fun one.The moral implications of the game are some of the best bits and it's fun to put the characters through the ringer a bit on this.

                            Our Chronicle Tenets are:
                            ■ Never kill the innocent
                            ■ Don't be a monster
                            ■ Treasure your past

                            The PC has another conviction 'Thou Shalt not torture' as she is a victim of abuse herself - this is why she has the tenet to aid Women in need - she's been there herself. She does believe that she is doing the right thing here - if the designer wasn't a junkie it's very likely she wouldn't have blood bonded her. What is also true though is that she took a shortcut by swapping one addiction for another rather than staging an intervention (in fairness, she didn't know the lady at all - she made a deal with the ministry and said she wanted to look the best in Elysium - the ministry came through for her by giving them the details of a gifted but addicted designer - no good deed goes unpunished ) My PC is on the clock here as we've an upcoming Death Day party for the Prince and she wants to dress to impress - we've a real Harpy in the making on our hands!

                            As far as addictions go... as far as i'm concerned, the healing powers of vitae, combined with the addictive qualities of the blood are sufficient for the moment to allow cold Turkey. Long term... well i can't see this ending well, but it has been entered into (by the PC at least) with the thing the road to Hell is paved with
                            Yea, I think I'm still inclined to say I'd probably let the PC get by without a Stain in the moment here, but knowing (possibly only as a player) that this is likely going to blow up down the road and potentially turn out much worse actually as a result. Granted, they might also just happen to luck out and have it all play out well. Careful maneuvering and forethought could see them through. Just not that optimistic about it.


                            -Red
                            V20 Content: Age & Potency
                            V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor, Morality System
                            Brand Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              chipotlechris

                              Okay, so the act of ghouling the designer has a couple of issues, some positive, some negative.

                              Positive:
                              • Switching the addiction from a list of drugs to vitae could be viewed as a step toward recovery, a bit like entering a methadone program. Reduce the number of addictions, provide some stability at the very bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy, and it simples up the situation, both medically and in the sense of focusing on one problem at a time. This satisfies "help women"... barely.
                              • One result of changing the addictions is alleviating the pain and desperation associated with trying to manage multiple addictions. It may not be an unmitigated good, but there are some vague parallels with the pc getting out of an abusive relationship.
                              Negative:
                              • Ghouling anyone, for any reason, is problematic in several ways. It is a form of mind control, and increases the need for the Domitor to feed, thereby putting vessels in danger.
                              • The Tenet about not being a monster might come into play here, depending on how you've interpreted it in the past. In Wizard of Oz, Dorothy didn't answer the "are you a good witch or a bad witch?" question with "Well, I'm a good witch. I get people addicted to my blood to cure their addictions and make them my slave." Ghouling someone is an inherently monstrous act.
                              • The ghouling was done for petty and selfish reasons. The fact that the pc was in a hurry to get a better wardrobe is not a justification, it makes things worse. The designer deserved to become a blood slave because the pc couldn't just join a second hand fashion website and pay for the overnight shipping? Or, you know, pay for a stylist?

                              Bottom line:

                              The PC, having emerged from long-term abuse, may not have clear models for how to altruistically help others with their problems. The decision to ghoul the designer was selfish and misguided, but not an unmitigated evil. The fact that the pc isn't very good at helping women doesn't mean the intention wasn't there. It would make for some good roleplaying to have the player notice parallels between her treatment of the ghoul and the treatment she experienced with her own abuser.

                              Make it clear, however, that this means the pc has come to understand that she needs to be careful with how she helps women. Also, let the player know you are keeping a very close eye on whether the treatment of the ghoul is on the whole beneficial for the ghoul, or whether she is being used and abused.

                              Make it clear that withholding the ghoul's new drug of choice... which is the only thing keeping her sober-ish at this point... would be tantamount to stealing a diabetic's insulin and refusing to give it back unless they do something for you. That is, it would violate the torture tenet.

                              The pc dodged this bullet, but it parted their hair. You're right to expect there to be stains accruing from this situation in the future.

                              I would apply 1 Stain for the ghouling, remove 1 for the Conviction, leading to no roll needed. Let the pc off with a stern warning.

                              This time.

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